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Have you ever had a problem that wouldn't seem to go away? The 5 whys technique will help you get to the root of the problem and fix it once and for all. This can be effective at work or in your personal life.

Ask Why?

The 5 whys technique is exactly what it sounds like. Approach a problem by asking, "Why?" When you're confronted with a solution, you keep asking why until you get to the root cause of the problem.

Maybe you don't need to ask why 5 times. Perhaps 3 whys can get you to the root of the problem, but keep asking why until you find the main reason for the problem.

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How many times do you need to ask why to get to the root cause of a problem?

At work

Imagine a problem you may have at work. You're a web designer, and your client keeps asking you to redesign the homepage.

Some potential whys:

  • The client isn't satisfied with it.

  • The webpage doesn't meet what they're looking for.

  • The content doesn't meet their updated requirements.

  • The updated requirements were sent to your boss, but you didn't receive them.

  • Your boss forgot to cc you in the email chain.

The solution to this problem may be to fix the communication breakdown between you and your boss about updated requirements.

At home

Now, let's imagine a problem you may have in your daily life. Let's say you're often running late in the morning.

Some potential whys:

  • Because you were up late the night before.

  • Because you were on your phone after you laid down.

  • Because the videos are so funny.

  • Because you like to watch videos and you find it relaxing.

  • Because you don't like to go to bed right away and want to relax first.

The solution might be different for you, but the root cause may be that you want to relax before sleeping so you can find a way to do that and go to sleep on time.


By now, you can see the 5 whys technique is used for problems that may not have an easy solution. Which of the following problems can use the the 5 whys technique to fix. Select all that apply.

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